When you own a property, one of your main concerns will always be ensuring that it is kept safe and secure, whether you live in it or not. However, if you are a landlord, you need to be very careful when you install security equipment not to breach the privacy of your tenants. Here, we look at the security measures that you can take and how best to go about it.
It is believed that rented homes are more vulnerable to burglaries, mainly because neither the tenant nor the landlord knows who should be responsible for its security. Whilst it might be tempting to go no further than the minimum legal requirements, there can be benefits in doing so, particularly when it comes to issues of insurance and how appealing the property is to potential tenants.
The legal requirements
As a landlord, you are required to provide a home that is secure and free of hazards. That means that you will need to change the locks and keys whenever a tenant departs, as well as ensuring that doors, windows, garages, sheds and gates are all fully functional. They should all be able to be closed properly and have a sufficient lock.
If you suspect that your property is being used for illegal activity such as the production and distribution of drugs, fraud or escort services, then it is your responsibility to report this to the police and to make sure the property has been cleaned, all illegal materials removed and secured.
Doors and windows
Doors and windows are the most obvious points for someone to try and gain entry to the property who should not, so it is important that they should be of good quality. Simply taking the cheapest option can be counterproductive if you end up having to make repairs or claims on insurance.
It is wise to avoid the use of latches that can be popped or forced open, and so in buildings such as flats, these will need to be upgraded or have a second lock fitted. The most secure types of locks are cylinder or mortice locks, and chain locks can add an extra level of security for when a tenant is at home. On windows, cable locks can restrict how far a window can be opened.
CCTV is an increasingly popular choice for all types of security, but the practicality of this depends on the type of property that you own. Installing CCTV to the perimeter of a house can act as a worthwhile deterrent, as well as providing footage of the culprits for the police if an incident does occur.
It is important to remember that security cameras cannot be installed in areas where the tenant can reasonably expect to have privacy, such as inside their home. If the property is a flat, then it is possible to position cameras in public, communal areas such as stairwells and lifts.
As the use of cameras can be considered to be invasive, they should only be added with the consent and co-operation of the tenant.
More and more people are now adding smart doorbell cameras to their properties for an extra level of protection. Not only does this guard against burglaries, it can also give the tenant extra peace of mind and convenience.
It is something that they can be given access to during the time that they live in the property, but it can also be easily revoked once they leave, and these powers can be added to the lease agreement.
Aside from the tenants themselves, it’s also important as landlord to be mindful of privacy regarding neighbours, as one homeowner has found themselves with a £100,000 fine after they failed to respect the privacy of the surrounding street.
An alarm is one of the most well-known pieces of equipment that can be installed in a property. You will be required to give the tenants an access code and teach them how to use the alarm properly. This code can then be changed once their tenancy comes to an end.
If someone you know lives in the property, then they may be happy for you to be a keyholder. This enables you to be notified if the alarm is triggered in addition to the residents.
Gardens can often be overlooked when it comes to security, but it is important that you pay close attention to them. Make sure that gates and perimeters are properly secured and maintained, and sheds should also be locked. Making it as difficult as possible to enter the property will act as a form of security, so planting bushes and trees along borders can make it harder to get across walls and fences. Also, not leaving bins or other items close to perimeters where they could be used for climbing in and out of a property is prudent.
Garden lights can work as an effective deterrent. These are often motion activated and will illuminate the outside of a property when they sense that someone is there.
Tenants also have a responsibility to keep a property secure. You can provide security equipment such as locks and alarms, but it is up to them to use them properly. A failure to do so could leave them in breach of their lease, and it is important to consider the wording of this carefully so that any tenants know what is expected of them.
They should avoid leaving spare keys anywhere that they can be found, such as under the plant pot next to the front door, and be very careful who they give a spare key to. A tenant may also want to add their own security measures, but this will need the permission of the landlord before they do so.
A secure property is a happy and profitable property that is more likely to have loyal tenants and can be easy to attract new ones when you need to. It is important to remember that securing a rental property is about protecting an investment, but also the human lives that are within it, so it is essential that it is a subject which is taken very seriously.
This article was written by Nick Booth. Nick is the Director of ISET Solutions, who specialise in home security and automation technology for trade and businesses within the bio tech, corporate sector and beyond.